Pet reptiles are one of the topics we really enjoy writing about as so many readers are looking for information about housing and what to feed them! One popular reptile is the Chinese water dragon. They grow to be three feet long! Yikes.
Don't be fooled. Even though they're a 'pet reptile' which some folks might believe means an 'easy' small pet, the care requirements for the Chinese water dragon are over the top. What makes up for the high maintenance care is that they're so beautiful! Chinese water dragons range from a dark to quite light green. They have vertical, slanted stripes of green or turquoise on their bodies. The long tail is narrow and banded with green and brown.
Chinese water dragon's housing and habitat
Pet Smart has a wonderful guide about the Chinese water dragon and advises pet owners to set up a habitat or terrarium that's at least 55 gallons. Make sure the terrarium has a screened lid that fits tightly, so your pet can't escape.
Also, remove the droppings frequently and change the bedding every month.
- When your Chinese water dragon is less than 6 inches (15 cm) long, line the terrarium with reptile carpet. Once it grows longer than 6 inches, these lizards are big enough not to be overwhelmed by a thicker layer of bedding; replace the carpet with 2 to 3 (5-8 cm) inches of coconut fiber or bark.
- Add rocks or logs to the terrarium so the dragon can climb closer to the heat lamp, and real or artificial plants for shade.
Like we said, over the top care requirements. This is not a reptile for a lazy pet owner!
Heat and light
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Like all reptiles, Chinese water dragons are ectothermus and must have a warm habitat in order to maintain their body temperature. They also need moist, humid air.
The Spruce Pets tell us that daytime temperatures should be in the range of 84 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit (29 to 31 degrees Celsius), with a basking spot of up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). At night, the temperature can safely drop to 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 27 degrees Celsius).
Chinese water dragons need simulated sunlight. Install a UVA/UVB bulb in the terrarium and keep it on for 12 hours.
Diet: Crickets are delicious
Chinese water dragons eat a variety of live food items ranging from crickets, mealworms, king mealworms, waxworms, earthworms, grasshoppers, butterworms, locusts, feeder fish, pinkies and fuzzies. Experts say that water dragons eat some fruit and vegetables.
You should research calcium supplements as well and these can be dusted on top of their meals. Water should be replaced daily.
How long does a Chinese water dragon live?
- Life expectancy: They can live up to 16 years
- Size: Adult males grow to approximately 3 feet in length; adult females measure approximately 2 feet.
- Origin: They come from tropical climates
The experience level required to own one of these reptiles is absolutely intermediate or advanced.
Other common names for the Chinese water dragon are water dragon, green water dragon, Asian water dragon, and Thai water dragon.
Always talk to experts about the basking area you set up, the basking light, humidity levels, dragon's diet, depth of water bowls, UVB lighting, temperatures at night time, night cycle and the dragons enclosure.
An adult dragon has a lot of care requirement so talk to the pet store about all these key topics. Iguanas are also great pet reptiles to consider.
Freshwater is also really important so never let water sit out! Chinese water dragon care is complicated but worth it as these pet reptiles are beautiful.
Do you live with a pet reptile? What essentials did we miss? Please leave us a comment below!